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What is laboratory workflow automation in diagnostic testing?

Laboratory workflow automation links multiple lab automation technologies to automate entire diagnostic workflows

11th November 2021Caitlin Stanway-Williams

Lab automation, and laboratory workflow automation are popular topics in diagnostics today. The technology allows repetitive processes, such as pipetting and barcode scanning, to be eliminated, helping labs more with less.

However, while buying one piece – or several pieces – of automated equipment is a great first step towards automating your workspace, labs today can achieve much more with automation than ever before. Because, ultimately, the benefits of automating just one small part of the assay are limited, as the pressure still falls on lab workers to conduct all the laborious tasks in between, such as sample prep.

Putting test tubes into the holder

That is where laboratory workflow automation makes a huge difference to diagnostics labs’ ability to scale, ensure reproducibility and increase efficiency.

In this article, we define laboratory workflow automation, compare the impact of laboratory workflow automation vs. partial lab automation, and look at how you can get started.


What is laboratory workflow automation?

Laboratory workflow automation solutions link multiple processes and workflows in order to automate entire assays in diagnostic testing.

In the clinical lab, laboratory workflow automation normally encompasses both lab automation hardware and lab automation software to form an integrated system that charts the end-to-end progress of a sample. This solution will automate the processes of preanalytics, analytics and post-analytics.

A laboratory workflow automation solution in diagnostic testing may process, test and store specimens autonomously, with minimal human intervention.


Laboratory workflow automation vs partial lab automation

Let’s break down the benefits partial lab automation can bring to your lab compared to the benefits laboratory workflow automation will bring:

Partial automation
Can operate during working hours
Standalone process: Partial automation only automates one process in the lab
Still requires human intervention
Equipment is often incompatible with other lab automation equipment and software
Machines have to be batch loaded
Less walkaway time for lab workers
More manual data management: Samples have to be tracked from one machine to the next
More scope for error
Laboratory workflow automation
Can run 24/7, extending hours of operation and shortening the time to turn over results
End-to-end automation across whole assays
Can be controlled through single interface, allowing scheduling
Links multiple different kinds of lab automation equipment
Continuous process flow
Complete walkaway time
Single source of truth: Laboratory workflow automation is controlled via a single data interface
Much less scope for error

‘Laboratory workflow automation allowed one national test and trace facility to x3 scale their output’ – Learn How

Lab automation for diagnostic testing

How to implement laboratory workflow automation in your lab

Lab automation is a process that needs to be thought through to be truly effective. There are a number of steps we recommend you take when you’re looking to implement laboratory workflow automation in the lab:

  • Understand why you want to automate
  • Map out your workflow
  • Map the equipment against your desired outcome
  • Engage with potential partners
  • Put together business case for automation

Most critically, if you decide to integrate laboratory workflow automation into your lab, you need to have the help of a flexible, supportive and accessible automation partner.

Learn more about how to automate your diagnostics processes in our simple guide.


How Automata Labs approaches laboratory workflow automation

At Automata, we believe that for laboratory workflow automation to be effective, labs need automation partners that will work closely with them throughout the whole process.
That is exactly what Automata Labs does. Automata Labs is a laboratory workflow automation system that makes scaling-up possible for all labs. With our proprietary hardware, single-platform software and a world-class service, we partner with diagnostic labs to take the hassle out of laboratory workflow automation.

Total workflow automation

With the laboratory workflow automation of diagnostics processes, human error is removed and the quality of lab results is significantly improved. Which means better patient outcomes, faster.

Speak to our team today to learn more about our diagnostics lab automation solutions.

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